First Reviews for The Underground
& Amsterdam Shows

The first reviews are in, and The Underground is a hit:

“★★★★”

“Drama, poetry, live music, song, dance and acrobatics interweave into a raw, cynical, energetic, but above all humorous performance.”
– Leeuwarder Courant

“a compelling insight into the brooding brain of a social loser”

“a stirring song…all elements of the multidisciplinary ensemble come together as seamlessly as a collective cry against imposed collectivity”
– NRC

“Will expresses his frustrations in smoking rock songs by Brendan Faegre. In particular, the [first song] has hit potential.”

Critic’s Choice
– Theaterkrant

“overwhelming in form and content…The Underground is a important message that cleans our ears”
– Friesch Dagblad

“The swampy, screaming vocals matched well with the mental state of main character Will”
– Volkskrant

It’s also just been announced that The Underground will come to the Amsterdamse Bostheater for 10 shows in August/September.

See Events for the Amsterdam performance dates

 

NITE interview

NITE did an interview and analogue photo session with me in March.  Here are a few excerpts:

“I’m convinced that there’s never anything truly new. It’s just new combinations of whatever the last people did. I don’t know what completely new would be, but I think we would hate it. I think if you managed to create new music that literally had no connection to anything that had ever been done before, that means, I don’t know, it could be all in frequencies that only birds hear (laughs). And then we would sit there, and we would hear silence, and we’d be thinking ‘what is this? I’m leaving.'”

“Everyone  absorbs the influences around themselves. And then as a creator, you’re just unconsciously synthesizing all these things that you like. For example, Bach was doing this. It’s just that he was much more limited in the geography and the period in the history of music that he had access to. He only had access to music from Italy and Germany and England and France, but he really merges those four things together.  And I think it’s the same today with.. whatever, take the new Billie Eilish album as an example. There’s a bossa nova track and this heavy hitting club track and an acoustic guitar track and you can think of those as completely unrelated genres, but it’s just the fact that her and her brother listen to and love all these kinds of music. This is just what comes out when they create freely.”

Read the full interview here

 

Premiere of The Underground
w/ NITE

This May NITE premieres The Underground, an epic new interdisciplinary piece about failure, invisibility, unimportance, and futility.  I wrote the music and songs, which are performed onstage alongside two dancers, an actor, a clown, and two krumpers.

NITE (National Interdisciplinary Theater Ensemble) is the quadruple-threat of Noord Nederlands Toneel + Club Guy & Roni + Asko|Schönberg + Slagwerk Den Haag.  Here’s their description of the project:

What has to happen before you feel like nothing more than a clown. A pipsqueak on the margins. The one who finally gets the cake in the face. The lowest life form on the slopes. And what has to happen before you are completely fed up with it? Unwilling to be the laughing stock anymore?

On the frayed edges of the city, on the margins of society, the Rodeo clown rebels against the role he’s been given in the Dutch Circus. With all the violence he can muster, he breaks out of the rotten system that’s trapping him in.

Will he succeed? Or will it be nothing more than an act? A funny little number in this travelling circus show that he’ll repeat again tomorrow night?

Behind-the-scenes music clips from our first rehearsals:

Credits:
Director: Guy Weizman
Choreography: Roni Haver
Writer: Rik van den Bos
Composer: Brendan Faegre
Set Designer: Ascon de Nijs
Costumes: Maison the Faux
Cast: Sanne den Hartogh, Camilo Chapela, Tatiana Matveeva, Bram de Laere, Nathalie Alexandra Torres Kinard aka “Strange”, Michael Ques Zaalman
Musicians: Niels Meliefste, Dirge Seçil Kuran, Joost Geevers, Berber Heerema, Isa Goldschmeding, Noa Eyl, Yanna Pelser
Sound Designer: Peter Zwart
Musical dramaturg: David Dramm

See all performance dates under Events

Debut EP:
Broken Mirrors

After years of creating, performing, revising, and recording this composition, my debut EP Broken Mirrors is out now on ArtekSounds.

“Composer and drummer Brendan Faegre’s debut EP Broken Mirrors reconciles the stoical and expressive aspects of minimalism while playing to his strengths as a creator and performer.

Recorded with only a small drum kit and a monosynth, the music develops through relentless repetition. Drum and synthesizer layers gradually accumulate and evolve, while overlapping cycles of harmony and rhythm provide a slow-and-steady inertia. The surface crackles with cymbal blasts and the depths shake with sub-bass eruptions.” – ArtekSounds

Listen and purchase on Bandcamp here:

Listen and Follow on Spotify or other streaming services:

Enthusiastic Reviews for
The Mad King

From printed newspaper critics to operaphile bloggers, reviews of the livestream premiere of The Mad King have been overwhelmingly positive:

“★★★★”

“Musicians as caged birds, how much more symbolic of corona times can it be?”

“The American-Dutch composer Brendan Faegre binds together Davies’ notes with various Handel fragments which he skillfully arranged for the New European Ensemble and instruments from the collection of the Utrecht Museum Speelklok. It’s beautiful how he lets the cuckoo and the nightingale from Handel’s Organ Concerto HWV 295 flutter back and forth between barrel organ and ensemble.”
– NRC

“★★★★★”

“The result is a realization of the Eight Songs that is comparatively far removed from the original and yet comes closer to it in the portrait of a confused spirit than any production that is limited to the music of Peter Maxwell Davies.”
– Bachtrack.com

“Stefano Simone Pintor develops a dramaturgy coherent in substance with the original work by Maxwell Davies, placing a “preshow” starring a petulant parrot who, speaking from a television screen, traces the fragmentary space-time coordinates on a plot of “musique concrète” composed for the occasion by Brendan Faegre. The sequel develops along the disorganized plot of the Eight Songs onto which Händelian episodes are grafted not so much to reference King George’s well-known love for the music of the “dear Saxon” but to refer to the spirit of those “stage props” evoked by Maxwell Davies to describe his work, delivered here in skewed and dissonant transcriptions by Faegre himself. The intention is not to fill the disconnected “memory gaps” but rather to amplify an existentialist attitude with a Beckettian flavor, suggesting a desire for solitude as a reaction to foreboding external threats.”
– Giornale Della Musica

“a bravura performance, and rather disturbing”
– Planet Hugill

“The Mad King is beautifully designed and the performance is excellent.”

“The musical universe was designed by composer Brendan Faegre. He clothes Davies’ Eight Songs with unearthly sounds from water bottles, homemade vegetable flutes and idiosyncratic arrangements of Handel fragments. Striking are the many short glissandi and the frantically tumbling motifs, which fit perfectly with Davies’ original.”
– Theaterkrant

“a visually opulent and musically robust production”
– O-Ton

“a delusional world with ghostly birds”
– Place de l’Opera

“Plenty of food for thought”

“This song cycle, which only lasts half an hour, was dressed up, decorated and enhanced with music by the American drummer and composer Brendan Faegre, who lives in the Netherlands. He creates complex bird noises and very simple sounds: whistling bottles of water, banging with sticks, hammers, hands and slippers…All in all, it creates a pleasant cacophony of sounds, produced by a baritone and only six musicians from the New European Ensemble.”
– De Groene Amsterdammer

 

For more info see the Mad King project page.

World Premiere w/ Slagwerk Den Haag & Atelier van Lieshout

On 4 September, Slagwerk Den Haag and I will premiere Gods of Bird, my new 30-minute work for percussionists and live electronics.  It is performed entirely on Atelier van Lieshout’s Early Bird sculpture, with the concert taking place in the sculptor’s atelier in Rotterdam.

The percussionists play the role of three gods, descending from the heavens to help guide the four terribly lost Early Birds.  Each bird believes itself to be a solitary genius, forging ahead in its own direction while climbing the rusty corporate ladder of late-stage capitalism.  The birds are unaware of the fact that we are all welded together.

For more info see the Gods of Bird project page

A Manual Towards the Truth
Press and Video

Press reviews and a live video of our new multidisciplinary music theater piece A Manual Towards the Truth are now online. This work is inspired by the destruction of truth in the social media environment, and the moral dilemmas created by the newly required job of Content Moderator.

“★★★★…gripping” – NRC

With tons of energy they tell two stories together while singing and speaking…a mental assault” – Theaterkrant

The design of this performance is sleek and streamlined with an eye for detail…the singing is crystal clear…perfectly performed in the audiovisual field” – Klankgat

For more info see the Manual Towards the Truth project page

New Silent Film Soundtrack for ‘Sunrise’

With the Edge Ensemble, we will premiere our new soundtrack to F.W. Murnau’s silent film Sunrise at the EYE Film Museum and the Sounds of Silence festival.

We divided the film into 6 acts, where each act has one unique emotion that grows or fades in intensity as the act progresses.  This sequence of emotional intensities serves as the score on which we improvise the soundtrack.

For more info see the Sunrise project page

Switched Bach Video

With baroque violinist Lucia Giraudo, we have just released our first track as switched, a new project channeling baroque dance music through a contemporary prism.  Lucia takes a historical approach to the violin part. I add drums, making the meter of the dances explicit. And through processing and a monosynth, we bring baroque dance into the soundworld of electronic music.

Here’s our take on the Allemanda double from J.S. Bach’s Violin Partita No. 1 in B minor.

For high-quality audio, download the track via Bandcamp:

For more info see the Switched project page

SPR!TZL Award from Silbersee

A new music theater installation collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Robin Coops and percussionist Jonathan Bonny was selected for Silbersee’s SPR!TZL program. The program awards a budget of € 15,000, coaching by the Silbersee team, and a final performance in July 2019 at the Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in Amsterdam.

Our project will be based around the horrific experiences of Facebook content moderators and the gradual self-destruction of truth in the social media environment.  A central theme will be transforming the digital into the physical, on musical, visual, conceptual, and social levels.  Stay tuned for more info..

Edge Ensemble Selected for Classical:NEXT Showcase

The Edge Ensemble’s new production The Wind was selected for the 2018 Classical:NEXT Showcase. After the excellent experience performing at the Club Showcase last year with Bow Hammer Connection, I’m looking forward to presenting a larger project at “the most viable international gathering place for open-minded music-focused people.” (Frank J. Oteri, New Music USA) Other showcase artists this year include Roomful of Teeth, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Molly Joyce.

For performance dates and more info go to Events

Analog Intelligence with Pacific Symphony’s Youth Orchestra

This March I will join the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (led by Roger Kalia) to premiere my new work Analog Intelligence, an orchestral reworking of ‘Dubstep’, ‘IDM’, and ‘Drum ‘n’ Bass’ from my Dance Suite in G. Their principal percussionist and I will be downstage, far-right and far-left, to give a more ‘close-miked’ sound and to play with some stereo echo effects.

For performance dates and more info go to Events

Auke de Vries, Carillon, and Rooftop Percussion

As part of an exhibition celebrating Dutch sculptor Auke de Vries’s 80th birthday, Slagwerk Den Haag asked me to compose a new work based on one of Auke’s concepts: a conversation between the bells of a carillon and elevated percussionists.  The percussionists surround the carillon on balconies, rooftops, and in the street, showering the city with their sounds from 30 meters above. From the Asphalt to the Spires will premiere next month with SDH and The Hague’s virtuosic carillonneur Gijsbert Kok.

For performance dates and more info go to Events

Five World Premieres with the Edge Ensemble

This May the Edge Ensemble will premiere five freshly commissioned works inspired by games and human play. The new pieces from Genevieve Murphy, Ethan Braun, Christopher Fox, Harry Stafylakis, and me each showcase five deeply personal interpretations. From the financial games of Goldman Sachs, to a composer joining us on stage playing bagpipes, this program expresses the diversity and profundity of play in the human experience. Here are two composer interviews below, and you can watch the rest on the Edge Ensemble Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/edgeensemble/videos/1373301249415253/

https://www.facebook.com/edgeensemble/videos/1369230226489022/

For performance dates and more info go to Events

 

Music For Bars On Tour

In collaboration with Slagwerk Den Haag and Club Guy & Roni’s Poetic Disasters Club, Music For Bars begins a 10-bar tour around the Netherlands this Autumn. The production is a 60-minute amplification of sonic, physical, and social elements of The Bar. It combines composed, improvised, and curated works for 3 percussionists, 3 dancers, and a backing track, all of whom explore and break the boundaries of “normal”.

For performance dates and more info go to Events